Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s–1990s, a major retrospective at Singapore's National Gallery (14 June–15 September 2019), opens emphatically in flames. At the exhibition's entrance, viewers encounter a wall-sized image from 1964 titled Burning Canvases Floating on the River. The photograph captures a performance by Lee Seung-taek, in which...
When the London-born artist Thomas J Price graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts in 2004, the school's college art prize was by no means his most notable accomplishment as an emerging artist. In 2001, Price presented his much-talked-about work Licked, a daring performance, later profiled on the BBC 4 television...
Without punctuation, She Said Why Me, the title of May Fung's 1989 video presents itself as a statement, rather than a question. It suggests a subject who expects no response, a person prepared to make what she can from being chosen though perplexed by the attention. The video follows a blindfolded woman, then unmasked, through late colonial-era...
I turned from the observation of the outside world to the recording of an inner space... I wanted to shatter the techniques I had learnt... to let a random uncontrollableness take hold of the work. —Jenny Watson
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery is pleased to present new works by Jenny Watson in Peripheral Vision, this exhibition features seven large-scale paintings on Belgian linen, together with two smaller pieces on Japanese chintz that she had sourced from a small sewing shop in Tsukuba, Japan. Embedded in feminism and punk, the readily recognised autobiographical and fictional aspects of Watson's oeuvre are delivered in these works through her distilled conceptual approach, distinct vernacular vocabulary, and the intimate details of her personal life. These earnest yet playful paintings combine colour, text, recurring figures and subtle humour to create a powerful narrative. Though deliberately naïve in style the paintings are acerbic in their emotional detail; a signature, rudimentary expressionistic style that Watson continues to master since her strategic abdication of realism in the 1970s.
Watson is vigorously spontaneous in the way she approaches her subject matter, the artist allows her protagonists to move freely between time periods, as she combines thoughts, situations and memories from her present experience with those from her past and from fictional scenarios. Watson has an incredible ability to zoom in and out on significant moments in her life, using these instants to evoke fleeting emotions and interpersonal dynamics. Her work First Beer (2018) encapsulates this ability, this painting shows the familiar alter ego of a young girl standing in the outline of a neighbour's suburban home being offered her first sip of beer, we then jump forward in time and witness a teenage version of the alter ego in fishnet stockings attending a pop concert in Screaming teenager at a Beatles concert 1964 (2018).
Music has played an important role throughout Watson's life and work. Tie a yellow ribbon (2018) references a pop song in the 70s, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" by the American pop trio Tony Orlando and Dawn; while Tracy Marander goes to work (2018) is inspired by Tracey Marander's generosity in supporting then-boyfriend Kurt Cobain, lead singer of grunge band Nirvana, while he needed time to write songs. Tracy Marander goes to work offers an introspective statement questioning the bigger picture of traditional female role and popular representations of womanhood.
Since her inclusion in the Venice Biennale in 1993, Watson has continued to refine the use of a separate text panel alongside her pictorial images, a movement which she considers to be the crucial component in her conceptual painting project. This distinct visual component appears like image caption, aims to address our consciousness and the inner dialogue we subconsciously have when looking at art. As Watson explained, "'the subtext of existence' is what we have been trained not to think about when we look at art, but it's part of what makes us human, and art should inform us about what it means to be human." Deportment (2018) and A mature woman (2018) link us back to Watson's biography, daily rituals and routines, underlined by poetic, reflective musings, and intimate, perplexing statements.
Peripheral Vision is a clever combination of the revelation of small and individually, seemingly insignificant fragments of her experience, using them as a framework to suggest a fuller, more complete and revelatory account of life, work, thought and feeling. The paintings are bound by a dreamlike logic that slips in and out of the cogitations of the mind. Like memory images caught in passing, we glimpse all manner of experience in Watson's work: the simple remembering of her time in London circa 1978 in A London taxi and a London terrace (2018), and the tender moment of a magpie landing on her deck in Young magpie (2018). The autobiography that is represented is made all the more personal and idiosyncratic by the particularities of experience that Watson refers to and by her deft visual expressions. Watson's work continues to be tantalising after more than four decades of artistic practice, perhaps due to the extraordinary quality of her work being at once both highly personal and universal.
Watson's works are held in major state and regional galleries in Australia, and in a number of overseas collections, including Ghent Museum, Belgium; Ulmer Museum, Germany; Yokohama Museum, Japan; Nagoya City Art Museum, Japan; and Vienna Academy of Arts and Craft, Vienna. Jenny Watson has exhibited with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery since 1982.
Peripheral Vision will be Jenny Watson's sixteenth solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.
 Jenny Watson in Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2017, p.16.
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.